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Comment Re:Related to gamma ray bursts? (Score 1) 30

I suspect the sprites might be related to the gamma rays. Don't see electrons having a long enough free path in the lower atmosphere to build up enough energy to cause pair production.

I am very convinced that the sprites are related to sporadic E skip, where ionization of the E layer of the ionosphere becomes intense to reflect VHF signals.

Comment Incandescant lights? (Score 3, Interesting) 92

I'm guessing the material should be quite happy to sit at 4000K, which would make for a much higher luminous efficiency than tungsten. Kind of like a 21st century version of the Nernst lamp (which was twice as efficient as a carbon filament, but half of tungsten's efficiency).

Comment Re:I don't get the point of this thing... (Score 1) 217

A few reasons why the electric catapult is better than steam. It's a royal PITA keeping the steam seal in good shape on the catapult. The steam reservoirs take up a fair amount of space. The steam piping is a PITA. Gas turbines for non-nuclear ships don't necessarily produce steam.

Comment Z-800? (Score 3, Informative) 124

ISTR Z-800 as being the designation for the Z-80 extended to 16 bits. My recollection was that it didn't start shipping until sometime past 1980. If Zilog got the Z-800 out late 1978, and sweet talked DRI to porting CP/M to it, and with that port capable of running Z-80 executables...

Reality was that Intel had announced the 8086 in 1978, had silicon shipping early 1979 and Tim Paterson got an 8086 board up and running in May 1979.

Comment Reverse Osmosis is energy efficient (Score 2) 332

Getting a gallon of fresh water to San Diego County from the Carlsbad plant will use less energy than a gallon from the Sacramento River delta. The Edmonston pumping plant of the California water project is the largest single consumer of electric power in the state.

I'm looking forward to the Poseidon plant coming on line as my water should get noticeably softer.

Comment Re:Fuck it - everyone for themselves. (Score 1) 374

I'm with you on waiting for panel prices to drop some more, but I'm also waiting for a good battery pack to keep my house "off grid" until around 10 to 11PM. The problem with solar is that the peak generation occurs hours before peak load and even worse the generation will be close to zero at the time of peak load - search for "solar duck" for more info. The mismatch between solar generation and utility customer demand was pointed out to a group of us EE's at UCB by a PG&E official 40 years ago!

FWIW, I've seen your postings on at least one site and tend to agree with you more than I disagree.

Comment Re:Fuck it - everyone for themselves. (Score 1) 374

In an ideal world, you would be credited for the incremental cost of generation, transmission and distribution when your panels provided power, but e charged for the incremental cost of generation, transmission and distribution when your house was drawing power. Keep in mind that the peak load on the Calif grid occurs about 7PM PDT so your solar panels are unlikely to offset capital costs for transmission and distribution.

I suspect that one of the prime incentives for Elon Musk to develop the homepower battery pack is to keep his Solar City investments from becoming worthless in a few years. By storing enough power for the house to stay off grid till maybe 10PM, he would be able to say that the Solar City installations are a benefit as opposed to a liability. Without the batteries, those installations will become a liability in a very few years - google for "solar duck".

Comment Re:Then there was War Plan Red (Score 1) 313

Mighty Yar got it right, the US had embarked on a massive naval construction program in the early 1920's and was in a position to dictate the terms of the Washington Naval Arms treaty of 1922. If the other nations didn't agree, the US would continue building its fleet. Also helped that the Japanese diplomatic code had been broken, so Japan ended up agreeing to a reduced fleet. One consequence of the treaty was that two of the USN battle cruisers under construction were converted to carriers, and showing the USN that large carriers were more effective than small carriers.

The attack plans on Canada were drawn up as the US experience with WW1 led to vigorous opposition to any thought of engaging in another war in Europe. Opinion polls conducted in 1941 showed about 70% of the US opposed to involvement in Europe, and one result was that The US declared war on Germany on December 11th only after Germany declared war against the US on Dec 10.

The plan to take over the Soviet Embassy to search for nuclear devices wasn't delusional as the Soviets had smuggled in components for a nuclear weapon into the Washington DC embassy.

Comment Make that THREE other things (Score 4, Interesting) 255

3) Port to to multiple architectures (and OS's) to catch bugs not reported by the original build environment. This is one of the approaches OpenBSD uses to improve security and was quite common in the open source software world when ESR coined the phrase.

The OpenBSD team found one very long lasting (30+ years) bug in the legacy BSD code when the Sparc64 build barfed.

The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives. -- Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project

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